Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Little Ninja


  I can remember when I was six years old and would have a bad dream. I would crawl into to bed with my parents. It seemed back then I was always welcome. When their six, they can never think of a good reason why their parents wouldn’t want them in bed with them.
  I am older and being on the other side of the coin, I assure the reader that I know of a few good reasons right off the top of my head.
  I went into my parents’ room for several reasons. One of those reasons was bad dreams. (Read spiders from October of this blog) I had some real scary ones. I also got cold in my room and had a few other minor reasons for not wanting to stay in bed.
   Well, like I said I’m on the other side of the coin. My son isn't allowed to sleep with us. So he waits for us to go to sleep and turns up in our bed when we awake.
  The other morning I was witness to my little ninja’s performance. It was five something and the room was dark I was still in that fuzzy state of being awake and not awake. I noticed the door open and then close but not all the way. The little ninja had learned over the years not to shut the door, it would only get a response from his mother. He also had learned to turn all the lights out, so they wouldn't wake his mother.
  He paused at the end of the bed waiting to make sure we were asleep. I had begun to wonder, if I had imaged the door opening. When I felt the bed move just a little, the ninja approached.
  I felt him crawl through the darkness and move between myself and my wife. Just as he passed me I reached out and grabbed him, squeezing him into a hug. He did feel cold so I decided to let him off the hook. He got a free pass from dad and slipped under the blankets. After all he did put a lot of thought into this endeavor, plus he learned some wicked ninja skills alone

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tail # 2: Buford

  Buford was born in 1986. He was part Chihuahua and Bulldog. Yes, that is a possible combination. Imaged my parent’s Chihuahua being corner and held down by the neighbor’s Bulldog. I would like to think princess put up the good fight, but the neighbor’s dog was much too strong for her.
  Therefore, after their connection four puppies popped out of my parent’s very uncomfortable Chihuahua. By the time, they we were ready to find homes for her puppies they were already as large as their mama. They were even picking on her so bad we had to separate them.
  We found homes for all the puppies and had really put them out of our minds until one day one came back. They had called him Buford and he was already looked like a pit bull even though he was much too small to be one.
  He took to me and I loved the little dog to death. He became my first dog that I could call mine. I have only had three dogs, that I have called mine over the years.
  He was not a normal Chihuahua and he was not a bulldog.  He did not like to sleep with me; he preferred to sleep at the foot of the bed. He liked to play with a rope. As seen in videos involving pit bulls with jaws locked onto ropes and being spun around in the air. He liked to fetch, but wouldn’t let go of the ball, rope or newspaper when he returned, he would wait until we were both dizzy from being spun around.
  Once, my mother caught my attention and told me that a car had hit him.  He was a tough dog. This was not the first time he had his body bloodied by a car. He did not learn to stay out of the road until his mouth was deformed. Teeth shot out in different directions. He was an ugly dog, but he was my friend and had heart.
  When I went off to college he stayed home, he would watch for me on Fridays. Dad was never sure how the dog could tell that it was Friday and I would be coming, but the dog just knew. He would sit in the window and wait for me to get home.
  He met his end in 1992 when he took sick from what turned out to be a terrible mistake; he had eaten dog food that had been poisoned. I swore never to get that attached to another animal again. That only lasted about three years, however that would be another tale about a different tail.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Request: Mr. Jones


  By James Farnworth
  It was Monday and Jones didn't want to be at work. He had other things on his mind that was interfering with his job. He felt the letter buried in his pocket. The traffic was miserable on the freeway. Even though he was a detective for the Seattle police department, he got no salvation from the noon rush. His partner once again wanted to stop at a taco truck on the way to their destination.  He didn’t feel hungry.

  "You go'n to eat that taco, bro," asked Omar his partner, pointing to the brown bag.
  "No, go ahead," he whispered. He didn’t feel like talking, he was sure Omar wouldn’t noticed.
  "Why did you want to come way out here? It is a bit out of the way, mon."
  The brown unmarked patrol car stopped at a pull out just a few feet from the tall bridge. He wasn’t sure it had a name, it was more about the place than anything else.
  "I'll be right back," he whispered slipping from the unmarked patrol car.

He stepped out on the walkway onto the paved deck of the bridge. The road was slipper with rain that refused to mix with oil. He had been here once before. It was night then and the rain poured down like God was trying to kill him. It wasn't God that tried to kill himself that night, it wasn’t God that cause the school bus to slip off the road and roll over. He knew he was a good man. But that didn't stop his baby girl from passing away.
  He looked back and at his partner who seemed to be taking a nap. His head leaned back into the head rest and the man’s short unshaven neck was exposed. Jones stepped to the edge of the bridge and thought how easy it would have been to have jumped that night. If it wasn’t for Markus he would have jumped.
  He looked down into the Abyss and spat. The drop fell for at least Ten seconds before slipping though the layer of fog and into the water below.
  "Don't do it man, it is not worth it," said Markus.
  Flashing back twenty years it was night and the rain fell on the man’s face.
  "How do you know?”
  "My father jumped, from right over there"
  "How do you know how he felt?"
  "Because I was here the night and he told me so on the way down."
  Jones heard the car door on the cruiser open. He reached into his pocket and pulled the crumpled letter from its hiding place, the letter that informed Mr. William Jones that his friend had died. The man that saved him, that showed him there was another way. He named him as his pallbearer. He hardly knew the man these days.
  It had been years since they had broke bread together but he had made the arrangement just a few weeks ago. He read it once more, even though there wasn't reason to he was a cop and over the years he had gain the ability to memorize the details. He had become a detective piggy backing that skill.
  "You okay, amigo," whispered Omar.
  "Yeah, sure."
  "Cause you look like you are planning somethin' and I don't want to have to do the paper work, you know what I'm saying."
  "Yeah and no I just needed a few seconds to decide something,” answered Jones holding the crumpled letter out in front of him.
  "As long as you aren’t planning a swan dive."
  Omar's foot steps faded once he neared the car. Jones noted his partner didn't get in to the car. Over the breeze he could smell the cigarette, the man always smoked when he was nervous.
  The funeral was Saturday. He had no family. But Markus did.
  "He had six grown kids, why didn't he pick one of them," he yelled into the breeze.
  He turned and Omar had risen off the car and was slowing move back to his side on the bridge. Jones raised his hand and told him to wait. Crumpling the letter once again and tossing it from the bridge. Only Omar watched it disappear into the fog. He walked back to the car getting in without a word.
  "Where to boss?" asked his partner, starting the car.
  "The airport."
  “You goin’ to tell me what this was all about?”
  “Honor,” whispered Jones, watching out the window as the Pine trees became a continuous blur of green.
  “Okay the airport, what should I tell the station?” asked Omar.
  “I’ll be back in a week,” answered Jones, pulling his cellular to call the airport.

To be continued next week. Please comment.


The above short story is to be considered copyrighted. I am the author and kept all rights to the above story. Unlike most of the material on my blog it a fabrication of Fiction. I wasn’t told the story. It is not meant to be about anyone in particular and should be considered a product of my imagination. The author doesn’t not smoke or drink in excess. He has also held the same job for 20 years. So if you like fiction and want to read more of my works of fiction you can go to http://lettersfromtheverse.blogspot.com read the posts from the beginning and you should be able to figure out the storyline.  You can also catch me on Facebook, under the name, Letters from the Verse.
  Thank you,
  James Farnworth.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Game


  I have told stories about my father’s frugalness. I am very frugal myself. We as I grew up we would call each other when we would find deals at the market.
  The phone would ring.
  "Hello."
  "I found hamburger for 99 cents a pound. How many pounds you want?"
  You will notice that I didn't tell you who called who and that is because it worked both ways. He would call me with deals and I would call him.
  So the day I called him and asked, "Dad you want to go to a baseball game, the school is taking a bunch of us to a Seattle Mariners vs. the Yankees. It would cost 20 bucks and lunch. He had never been to Safeco field and jumped at the change.
  When we heard bus we thought nice big bus, air conditioned and those seats the leaned back. So when dad got up a six in the morning and drove the 72 miles to Ellensburg, you might say he was more than surprised that it was a 70s style church bus, no a/c with hard as hell seats. The smell of diesel and antifreeze was prevalent in the air. Not to mention how loud the rest of the group was, singing songs and the random laughter was a little over whelming for my father the oldest one on the bus.

  At the game, we in the noise-bleed section of the stadium but luckily a stadium worker saw my dad walking up the ramp using his cane and directed us to the handicapped elevator. A short time later, we were in the top deck over looking the baseball diamond. The day was sunny and clear. It turned out to be a nice game at the park with my father. I can’t even remember who won that day. I guess that doesn’t matter as much as the time itself.
 Dad told me much later that it was nice to go, even though the bus was old, and the food was a little cold, it was the company that day that made it special.
  Every boy wants to spend the day at the ballpark with their father. I have taken Darrel to two Mariner home games, and more than a few college football games. We plan to go back every year, so he can have the memories as I have of my father.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Limousines Northwest


  My mom and dad owed a limousine service, ran by my brother and operated by the whole family. We drove all kinds of people, we even drove famous people.
  I can remember one time when my dad drove a group of rappers on a wine tasting trip. It was a large group of men and just a couple of women, so we used the mini-bus. When he was finished he wrote in his drivers log that everything went smooth.
  My brother and I came in the next day and set about cleaning the mess that was left behind. Along with the empty wine bottles and Mcdonalds bags someone had left their camera behind. It was a nice camera and looked expensive. It was digital and had all the options. We looked at the pictures trying to identify the owner when a nude dancer appeared on the display.
  The picture was taken on the bus traveling down the road. What was most interesting was the fact that my dad’s head was in every photo. At least the back of my fathers head.
  We called my dad and asked, "Did anything special happen while you were on the trip?”
  “No, they behaved," he answered.
  "Did you know that they were stripping in the back of the bus," asked my brother.
  "No, who the boys," he laughed, but I am sure he didn’t think it was all that funny at the time.
  "No the women dad," we laughed answering him at the same time.
  "Really, how do you know?" he asked.
  "We found a camera and you are in the pictures," Lee answered
  “Really,” he answered.
  Exactly, a half hour later, my dad was standing in front of my brother’s desk.
  We found all kinds of items in the limousines, after long nights of partying. Onetime, I made it back to the shop and when I went back to clean the back seat to remove the glasses and straighten up a little.
  I had been know find: tips, extra bottles of alcohol and cameras, as I mentioned before. This time I found a man passed out. He was middle aged and drunk. So I got in next to him. Pushed him once and he groaned.
  "Good you’re not dead," I said aloud. If he had been I am sure I would have been in a lot of trouble.
  "Who are you," I asked.
  He groaned again and said something incoherent.
  "Great," I said, as I rolled him over. I couldn’t leave him here in the shop, inside the car. I needed to get home myself.
  I reached into his back pocket and found his wallet. Something I don't recommend, but I was getting despite, it wasn't like I could just call someone. In this case I was ‘the’ someone. I mean, if a problem like this would arise, I was the company’s problem solver.
  Opening his wallet I found that he was from Yakima, west valley to be exact. I got out and shut the door.
  A few minutes later I found the guys address on the side of a yellow house. It must have taken me a half hour to get him to the door. I leaned him up against the door and rang the door bell. I wasn't even sure I was at the right house until the next day.
  When a man walked into the office looking like he had been hit by a bus.
  “Did one of your divers drop me off last night?" he asked.
  “Hmm," I said, rustling some papers.
  "Well I just wanted to give the guy a little reward."
  "Oh, yeah, out in west valley," I announced. Hey, its just like in the movies, money talks.
  "Thank the driver for his help. I was a little drunk and got into the wrong limousine last night."
  A fact that happened more offend that it is should.
  “My wife called it into the police and had a car run through the parking lot of the night club. They thought I had been rolled. When I turned up in the limo my wife figured out what happened."
  The limo service was both a happy time and a dark time for my family, but it makes for fun stories.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Fire Hose


  I believe that every parent has a memory about the first time their child did this or did that. I can remember the first time that I took my son out for lunch. My wife wanted to go to her office in downtown Portland to show off our three week old son. We drove down and parked near her office building and walked inside.
 It was a fun day; he meant my wife’s co-workers and got to go to his first McDonalds. Maybe that is why he likes that restaurant, so much; we can‘t go buy one without stopping for a burger and bit of playtime the indoor jungle gym.
   We sat in the dinning room of the restaurant having lunch when the familiar smell filled the air and it wasn't the burgers. So Jan took him into the restroom and found no changing area, no pull out table for our baby, nothing. She came back out and told me I will have to change him. We had decided not to be the kind of people that would chance our child in the middle of a restaurant. I still can’t stand the site of parents cleaning their baby’s bottom on the bench or even worse the table itself.
   I hauled him into the men's restroom and looked for the changing table. No table. The door to the only stall was locked.
  I asked the guy, “Sorry to bother you, but is there a changing table in the stall.”
  “No, Sorry,” He answered, not for the fact there was no changing table, but for what he was about unleash, it was another reminder of where I was. I set him up between the two sinks. While people walked in do their business and felt compelled to use the sinks.
  I heard, “Ah what a cute little baby.” Darrel was a cute baby but not when I was trying to get them out of what turned out to be the line of fire.
  I went about changing his diaper. I placed a new diaper under him and took the old one off and began to clean his soiled behind, that’s when it happened. He peed all over the mirror and sink. It was like a miniature fire hose that just wouldn’t stop. Felt like Lucy and at a cookie factory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wp3m1vg06Q

   I looked around for something to clean the mess up and no towels. Someone thought it would save money to install an electric hand drier, but no place for parent to change their children. I had baby wipes but not enough; after all we were just coming into the city for a few hours.
  I thought of toilet paper but the guy that was in the stall seemed to be nesting. Between his smell, the smell of the dirty diaper, and the pee all over the counter I fled the bathroom, the McDonalds and the city. Not because of the pee, but because we lived in Vancouver at the time.
    So the next time you are in a public bathroom and see all the little water spots on the counter and the mirror I want you to think of the little fire hose.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let it Snow


  I am sitting at work, watching the snow flakes fall, winter is truly here. My car it covered and the long season of cleaning it off twice a day begins. My wife bought a great point about this time of year. “Icy roads suck.” I don’t really think of them as sucking so much, because I learner to drive in the snow and Ice look ago.
  I grew up in Sunnyside, Washington. I learned to drive in the middle of January. Believe me when I tell you that this skill has came in handy over the years.
  Other than driving my dad’s old Ford pickup in the potato fields, my first time driving on pavement was in a parking lot in 6 inches of snow. It was dark and the driving instructor was a tall man that didn’t like science geeks. (Yes, I was a science geek.)
  I would like to think that it made me a good driver. The extra skills came in handy driving to high school all winter long and later from Seattle to Sunnyside for those weekend laundry runs.
  I have wreaked more than once in bad weather. But I would like to think that I saved the car each time with very little damage. Three years ago we were in our van driving towards the Richland, Washington and I spun out of control before careening into the median. In 12 inches of snow I regain control and even sped up to make it to the other side of the road. With a quick u-turn we were back on the road. Maybe not heading the right direction but that was an easily fixed at the next exit.
  Later, when I was in college I used to carpool each day with my good friend Dan. (The guy I called the Sub-urban cowboy) When I woke up one morning it was snowing, something I wasn’t used to in Seattle. It was a special day. It was my first time at a normal college registration.
  I drove to Dan’s and he was in his pajamas. (Plaid as I recall)
  “The school is closed for the day,” he yawed.
  I explained that I wanted to go to register and nothing was getting in my way this time. I was tired of getting up at 8 am and then waiting around school until late in the afternoon for my last class.
  He finally agreed and we drove my car through the snow covered streets of North Seattle to reach our goal. If you have ever driving in Seattle during a snow storm, you probably would understand that it isn’t the snow that is dangerous. It is the million other drivers that think they can drive in as little an inch of snow. They are the ones that make diving hazardous. (That morning there were over 250 accidents in 10 square mile area.)
  We made it there early and I got 18 credits worth of back to back Classes. That made going to school very efficient and fun. I was in at nine and out by twelve most days. It turned out that I saved money because I didn’t have to buy a lunch everyday.
  So if you are living in an area know to have a bad winter environment make sure anyone you care about learns to drive on icy roads. It is a skill that will one day save lives.

 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Good Scout


  Darrel has been making real progress. I am not the only one to see it.  He started his journey in the cub scouts last month. Since then we have found out he has had a lot of problems in school both his school work and socialization skills have needed improvement. He does have a little trouble with socialization; he is an only child and doesn’t have those connections that other kids do, that have a half dozen siblings.
  I grew up with 2 brothers and 3 sisters, numerous foster children and several cousins that frequented my parent’s dinner table. My wife is 7th of 9 children in her family. So we both really don’t know what it is like to grow up in a small family. So what are we doing to improve? We can just start having more children, but that isn’t a really good reason to bring more life into the world.
  W also work with the school, take him to as many birthdays parties as we can, once a week he goes to AWANA, as well as numerous play dates. Jan and I, each day work on his skills in math, reading and writing.  We also have met with the school’s counselor to in list his help in finding Darrel some friends.
  Each week I take him to the Cub Scout meetings and we learn about being better people and how we can help people. When we first came to the Cub Scout he didn’t really like coming.
  I have seen him in action, he is putting his clothes away, and I noticed him helping his mother up of the couch.  Note: he is a third her size but it is good to see that he is trying to be helpful. Each day we quiz him on his math skills and he seems to be catching up with the rest of his class. In an assemble last week he was honored with a Teacher’s Choice award, plus he had a perfect week. (This had only happened a few times in the last year.) He was proud of it and showed it to everyone that came to the door that weekend.
  He needs that kind of encouragement, so he continues to do well; not only on his path in the Cub Scout, but his path through life. So if you are lucky enough to see my son doing something good, let him know it.

  Last week, he stood still for a picture. The picture was taken by a 4 year old little girl that is as techno- savvy as he is in that regard.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tails #1, Houdini

Tails
  Someone asked me the other day why I have the word, ‘Tails’ in the name of my blog.  I answered, “I am planning to write about my animals that I and my family have had over the years.”
  So I guess this is it, my first attempt to write about my dogs, cats, mice, rats, ants, rabbits, and snakes. (Although do snakes really have tails.) They look like they should but were would it start. Well, anyway that is where I am going to start.

Houdini
  I had a snake. It was a boa-constrictor and it loved mice.  I had bought him when he was already an adult, from a guy that loved snakes. He wasn’t very nice and I only had him for a few weeks, so I never had the opportunely to feed him the mouse I bought him and the only time that I offered him the mouse he turn his nose, (So again do snakes have noses).
  It fact, had that little mouse months after that snake disappeared.  It turned out that my friend got rid of that snake because of fact he was an escape artist. To this day I have no idea how ‘Houdini’ got out. That is what he was named, before he ended up in my care. (In hind sight, that was probably my first clue.)
  I came home one day and the snake had simply disappeared from his in closure. I ended up moving and ‘Fred’ moved into the snakes cage and he lived the rest of his ill fated life out in cage until I released him into the wild, (The back yard of my boarding house)
  About a year later, I went to a friend’s apartment. It was two doors down from the apartment that I had lived in. When I walked by I nodded to the man on the front steps. Later when leaving my friends place, I got into a conversation with the man. It turned out that the snake had come out from behind the water heater one day right in front of his mother. He had to catch all 6 feet of the snake.
  I asked, “What had happened to the snake?”
  “I got him a cage, and he lived in there until one day the snake got out,” he answered.
  “Like Houdini,” I laughed.
  “My mom let him out the slider and I haven’t scene him since.”
  So I would like to think the legend of Houdini continues. He was the only snake that I have ever had and I don’t plan to have anymore.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tale Three: The Calling


  “I was like you, once,” said Thomas, leaning back a little.
  “Old man, you were never like me,” answered Richie. Turning around and watching the door.
  “I once knew the mean streets,” said Thomas.
  “Just give me your wallet, old man,” whispered Richie. He brandished the knife.
  “You can have my wallet, but you will be hear me out first, boy,” answered Thomas, coughing.
  “Why won’t you just give me your wallet?” asked the knife wheeling boy.
  “I am dying and it doesn’t matter anymore,” answered Thomas.
  “What, I haven’t cut you yet. Yet!” he said, once again wheeling the knife round and turning to see if anyone was coming.
  “I am sick, I don’t have long, I haven’t told anyone but you.”
  “I still want you wallet.”
  “You know when I was your age I robbed a deli, you know the one, over on fourth.”
  “Yeah, what about it.”
  “I was arrested and charged.”
  The younger man spun around as if the police were already there.
  “I went to court,” Thomas said, stopping to cough.
  Richie could see the spotted hanky. “You got the lung cancer.”
  “Yes, I do,” answered the old man.
  “So what happened,” asked boy.
  “I was arrested and charged and if it wasn’t for this one man, I would have been sent to the big house.”
  “Who Jesus?”
  “Yes, him too, but it was the Judge who sentenced me to learn three songs. If I didn’t learn them by Christmas, he was going to throw the book at me.”
  “Let me get this straight old man you were sentenced to learn three songs. What three songs?”
  The old man nodded and touched his fingers on the keyboard. The old organ seemed to come alive, as he began singing Amazing Grace.
  “Stop, Stop.  You had to learn Christian songs, Oh I would have rather went to prison.”
  “You say that now, but you aren’t the one that was heading to prison.”
  “Yeah, who taught you, to use the piano?”
  “I learned how to play the organ from the man that sat here in this very spot for thirty years playing for the congregation of this church. He taught me how to play my first song and I played it for this congregation on Christmas Eve.”
  “When was that?” asked boy. He had put the knife away and sat down next to the old man.
  “43 years ago,” answered Thomas.
  “What are you 70 years old?”
  “I am 58 and won’t see 59,” Thomas said grimly.
  “Oh. Sorry.”
  “So why did you really come into this church tonight,” asked Thomas
  “The door was unlocked.”
  “Always is.”
  “Why did you stay all these years?”
  “Because I found a home here and a place in life.”
  “Can you teach me?”
  “Maybe, but, it will cost you?”
  “How much, would you want?”
  “Oh, work a broom and mob, once or twice a week around the church.”
  “Big church,” whispered the boy.
  “Big job teachin’ a punk like you how to play.”
  “Okay, but, no wash, on wax off stuff,” Richie laughed.
  “What?” asked the old man?

  There it began, Richie would show up after dark each night learning and sweeping. He even started coming on Sundays to listen to the old man play. He snuck in like a thief and disappeared before anyone noticed him at the end of service. He avoided the congregation and only Thomas saw him for who he really was.
  “You need to let people know who you are, not who you were.”
  “Why, I am just thief.”
  “I never saw you as a thief.”
  “Old man, I mean, Thomas, I tried to rob you that first night and almost stabbed you.”
  “Yeah, but you didn’t.”
  “But you didn’t know that.”
  “I knew it”

  Spring, summer, and fall went by and they practiced. Richie dust moped the church each night finding peace as if he were a Zen Master in his Garden.
  The Sunday service fell on Christmas that year and the church was full of people. Richie came in late and stood in the back. The service went on and it came to the music part of the sermon. But everyone looked over at the empty bench.
   “I am sorry; to inform you that Thomas Foremont has passed from this earth. He battled for his life for the last year and never seemed to give up. He never missed a day in church and always had his faith. Let us have a few moments of silence.”
   The congregation bowed their heads and Richie fell to his to his knees. He felt something for someone other than himself for the first time. Through tears soaked eyes the headed for the door; ignoring the calling in his heart.

Later on, “Thank you, for coming, we all feel the loss. I had only known Thomas for the last few years but we…” He stopped as he saw the young man enter the center aisle.
   From the back of the church came a new voice, a man’s voice breaking into song. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me….” Richie continued to sing as he walked to the Organ and began to play.


The End.

Dedicated to Pastor Garrent Pitts (of Florida) and my Uncle Pastor Clif Farnworth (Passed on, 1999)


  The above short story is to be considered copyrighted. I am the author and kept all rights to the above story. Unlike most of the material on my blog it a fabrication of Fiction. I wasn’t told the story. It is not meant to be about anyone in particular and should be considered a product of my imagination. The author doesn’t not smoke or drink in excess. He has also held the same job for 20 years. So if you like fiction and want to read more of my works of fiction you can go to http://lettersfromtheverse.blogspot.com read the posts from the beginning and you should be able to figure out the storyline.  You can also catch me on Facebook, under the name, Letters from the Verse.
  Thank you,
  James Farnworth.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Nude Jogger


  Yesterday, I told you something I wouldn’t do for money, that reminded me of a time when I worked for a convenient store in Sunnyside, Washington. It was a retired 711. It looked like a 711, but they lost it franchise. The store was bought by someone that didn't want to pay the Southland Corporation thousands of dollars a month for the privilege of having a little sign that says they were a 711.
  So there I was standing at the register when I looked out and a car headed towards me from the parking lot. I figured out what was about to happen and tried to jumped back screaming "@&$?!" at the top of my lungs.
  My manager fired me in his head as I exclaimed that tidbit, but rehired me when the car ended up inside the store and knocking me fifteen feet.
   It was a good job, but a bad night besides that wasn’t the first problem at the store or the last.
   One night, I was wiping the counter off trying to stay awake. When I noticed a man jogging down the street. It wouldn't have been a big deal if it wasn’t for the fact he wore no cloths. I waited a few seconds before calling the police. How do you tell the cops something like that without sounding like your mad?
   "Sunnyside police department."
   I laughed.
   "Yes?" asked the voice on the phone.
   "I really don't know how to report this," I answered.
   "Did you see someone…" she paused to let me answer.
   "Naked?"
   "Where did you see him sir?"
   I gave the address.
   "Wow, he’s making good time. Which way did he go from there?"
   "North, towards north," I answered.
   "Thank you."
   "Oh, you got to tell me what is going on," demanding to know.
   The dispatcher laughed and said, “The man was across town and they thought that a husband had caught him in bed with his wife, but they couldn't catch up with him to find out.”
   They never caught up with the man but it was the funniest night I had ever worked. They called back later and asked if I had seen the man before. I had to admit I wasn't looking at his face. (Come on! he was naked.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

What we do for money

  In college money was tight. To make ends meet I worked for a convenient store, near Queen Ann Hill in Seattle. I really didn’t think working the night shift was all that big of a deal. Less people than the day shift and more side work to make the time go by faster. It was a way to make the much needed money that I needed to support my eating habit.
   Bob and I worked all-night stocking and cleaning. He was an Arab-American, he actually did say, “Thank you come again,” to the amusement of all that listened. It was about midnight, I was in the cooler and I saw some flashing lights through the cooler‘s glass door. I slipped out and the cops were there taking a report. We had been robbed. He answered the questions turned over the tape and went back to work asking me to do the same.
  This was the first Friday night that I had worked for this store. A few minutes later, I was in the backroom when the cops were back and to take yet another report. Bob held his brow this time. He had been hit in the head. I was rather pissed off by this point. I told him he should get his head examined for working here. (No pun intended.)
   "It’s okay I'm used to it," he answered.
   "How could you be used to this &$@?!" I asked.
   He didn’t say anything he just lifted the shift report and pointed. There on the report was five lines dedicated to robbery. Three of the lines had been added in with the use of White Out and a pencil. That was my last night working in downtown Seattle.
  I had my limitation on what I would do for money and dieing while making minimum wage wasn’t one of them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ocean Shores


  In 1989 my parents, Lee and myself went on a trip to Ocean Shores, Washington. It is on the north spit of the opening to Greys harbor.  If you look at a map of Washington State, Greys harbor is the big mouth looking inlet on the coast.
   Now that you know where we were, maybe you can understand just how cold the weather is out on the coast. Washington’s coast isn't like California’s warm beaches or the sandy shores of the gulf coast off Florida. It is cold almost year round. Oh, sometimes you might get lucky and find a day the sun breaks free of the clouds and the sandy shore will warm up to 75, but those days are far between.
   We ended up there finding most of the motels booked. We had gotten a wild notion to vacation and wanted to get away. This trip was special. We had no idea life was going to change in just the next year.
   My brother would get into a long term relationship and they would have a child. Within a year I would be married and divorced and back at CWU. We had no idea how hard it was going to be to get away by the time the next summer came round again.
   We had brought fishing gear. Not sure why, we ended up fishing in the surf, it was cold from what I remember. My mother was a real trooper; she got in right with us and fished like a professional. We had fished lakes, rivers and streams. This was new for us all, the waves every once in a while would flow over the top of us and we would run back in. The rip tide tried to pull me out more than once, a long with the crabs pitching my toes under the waves. Mom and Lee caught a Sea Bass. All I caught was a cold.
   That day wasn't long enough soon we had to come in and drink not chocolate to get our core temperatures back to normal. We sat under the blankets in that little motel room shivering for hours. Now that I think about it, I wish I was back there. Mom and Dad are gone now and I find myself missing them more and more each day.
   I have been writing these articles for a while now and I sometimes I share a moral or an ethical point, but this time I only have this; treat everyday like it is your last, live life to the fullest. No one knows what tomorrow will bring.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Extra Credit Cucumber

Did you ever have a class in school that was so hard that you relied on endless extra credit to save your grade? Marine Biology was that class for me.
  It was mostly the terms. It helped a little, that the class would go out in groups and explore the seashore for marine life and identify the items we found.
  We even ended up in the Puget Sound pulling up core and dredge samples off the bottom. One day the teacher pulls out a Sea Cucumber from a dredge sample.
  "Anyone that can eat a piece of this cucumber gets an A."
  Well, I grabbed the little guy and bit a piece off, after all I had been waiting all day for a chance to gets some extra credit. I found the urge to puke right there in the harbor. It felt like it was trying to claw its way back up.
  I can’t describe the feeling as that piece of snot slid down my throat. The teacher had offered extra credit before. I had done this credit. But I needed more to pass the class. The pressure of missing the credit I needed to graduate drove me to biting down and swallowing hole this little cucumber.
  "Are you okay,” he asked.
  I shook my head and sat down.
  He then finished his thought. "As I was saying. When we get back to the shore, I would have cooked up that little cucumber and anyone that wanted to try and could have done so for extra credit. But sense Farnworth was so hungry for a snack. No one gets extra credit."
  He looked at me then and smiled.
  "Farnworth, if you keep that your snack down you get an A if you throw up on my boat you flunk."
  The waves rolled the boat and at least one woman threw up on the way back. Everyone looked at me each time the boat rolled. They thought I was crazy, but if I flunked that day I would have flunked the class. I choked up a few times; I got my A for what it is worth to me now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Nuclear Family


  When my brother and I were little we had races to see who could take my dad’s Boots off first. Okay, I know now this competition was fueled by my dads desire to have his boots removed as quickly as possible. Dad worked at Hanford nuclear plant back then, he would come home dirty from a day’s hard labor. He was tired, dusty and short tempered.
  He would sit in his chair and point to the boots and then once they would off he would raise his hand in a peace sign. Which meant he wanted two non-aspirin for the pain.
   The loser went in to the kitchen and fetched two non aspirin and a glass of water along with the paper that was always the next thing to be asked for before he leaned back.
   I was thinking about this a few days ago. My dad worked at a nuclear plant. He was exposed to radioactive material. This is not an assumption, it is a fact. In fact it probably killed him.
  I wonder how much radiation my brother and I absorbed over the years. I would never sue, because it happen in the past, but it does bring up a point. Things that parents do affect the child, excess drinking, drug habits and Domestic violence are just a few of those things. Even the environment can harm your child be it radioactive dust, high voltage power lines, or cans of solvent long ago buried beneath your backyard.
   So what do we as parents with this information? We do our best to protect our children for what we can control and take sleep aids so we can gets some rest from all the worrying we do in the day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Work Ethics


  Stories around my dad’s construction sites were rare. I believed he missed the good old days before being hurt on the job in the seventies. He told a story about man he worked with that talked too much, ate too much, took to long on brakes and got payback doing so.
  It was August, 1971. LaVerne wiped the sweat from his brow as he looked around for Gene. Moving over to the trucks and tool shed he saw the man coming from his car. In his right hand, he held a sandwich.
  “You planning on coming back to work,” LaVerne asked.
  “Yeah, I was just hungry,” answered the man.
  “You need to get back to work and leave the eating for lunch,” he growled.
  This wasn’t the first day the man had slipped away for second breakfast. But it was going to be his last. Verne had started to see the pattern. The long coffee breaks, the bathroom breaks and then the extra meals. The man just didn’t have a great work ethic. The others complained that they work harder and longer than Gene, but they couldn’t get through to the man.
  Later at lunch, the dozen or so men sat on the saw horses and ate their lunch and waited for Gene to come back from the Honey-pot.
  “Doesn’t he know that lunch is only 30 minutes,” said one of the men.
  “He will,” Verne nodded.
  The door of the port-a-john swung open and the tall man walked back to the lunch area with the rest of the crew.
  “You fellas almost done,” he said commenting on the crew.
  “Yep,” answered one of the men.
  Everyone started to rise and head back to work when Gene sat down to start eating his lunch. They turned as the man started scream and make a fuss.
  “What’s going on?” asked Laverne.
  “You know what’s going on,” he yelled, tossing his lunch pail into the 50 gallon trash can.
  The others turned and walked back to the trash can and the laughter started. There next to the man’s three sandwiches was a rather large turd.
  “Who crapped in my lunch,” screamed Gene.
  “Hmm. Guess someone doesn’t like you so much,” said one of the men.
  “Guess you should watch you lunch,” said another.
  They didn’t have much problem with the man after that, he quit a few days later. Everyone agreed it wasn’t a big loss to the company. As for who crapped in the lunch pail the world will never know because the men sure aren’t talkin‘.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tale Two, the Bum

  I had been an accountant, mechanic, bondsman, pizza maker, and a mail man. You might say I have worn many hats over the years. But my last job was an accountant with Smothers and Jensen’s.
  The money was good and benefits; don’t let me get started on the benefits. I guess that is what I miss most about that job, money and the benefits. Oh, they were sorry, down right apologetic, up until the point when they came to my office to hand me my pink slip. I can remember the two guards that walking me out of the building. It was funny that I had seen the same scene in the movies more than once.
  On the rolls, of unemployed once again; they give you just enough to buy a gun and a few bullets each week. Guess they want you to have to make a choice rather to pay a few bills, feed your family or kill your self. The later would save the government money in the long run.
  So every week I choose to feed my family. The last time I was on unemployment we lost the car. I loved that car, but I love my daughter and my wife more. They meet me at the door each night, even if I am late. I stayed out late a lot in those days. Turning in applications and stopping at a Tim’s Throat emporium for one more drink on the way home.
  I know what you are thinking, I was just an out of work bum, but that isn’t exactly true.
  I had started a new job, that no one knew about. I was a sandwich artist. I worked for this sub shop. Well, I was in the training stage of working for this sub shop. I know it doesn’t pay like my accounting job did and there aren’t as many benefits, but times are tough out there and we do what we can do to make a living.
  Also, my unemployment benefits ran out the week before and I didn’t have the heart to tell my family we were going to have to move again.  I applied to this little shop in the middle of the suburbs so no one would know who I was behind this counter. Was I embarrassed, yes. Did I feel like a bum, yes. Did I want a drink on the way home in those days, yes.
  I felt too large to work in a sub shop. That’s funny, I don’t mean that I am too important for this job. I mean that I am 6 foot tall and everyone else that works here is 5 foot tall and just out of high school. I am twice the size of the biggest guy and that is my manager. He is patient for a man of his age. He had showed me several times that week how to make the Mamba Bomba sub, but it alluded me, and there was that roaster. It was 520 degrees of pain. I would give way to the smaller employees and end up leaning against the metal side of the stove. I had a burn on top of a burn and that only my first day.
  “Lunch time,” my manager called out from his office. Both pointing and looking at me.
  I stepped out of the sub shop and into the street. I could remember that all I wanted for lunch was a cigarette and a beer, but did I have time.
  I sat in my car; it is an 80’s ford tempo. The smell of plastic is its biggest downside. I guess that’s what I get for loosing my job so many times. The smell wasn’t the same that day; there was a smokey smell in the air. I found myself getting out of the car and looking around. That is when I saw it, smoke coming from the sub shop.
  I ran to the door were a crowd of twenty people were standing looking in. I wore the bright red shirt of office. But saw no others. “Were they still inside,” I remember thinking.
  “Those kids!” I said aloud.
  I started for the door but two men stopped me, pulling me back. I could feel my muscles coming into play and the rage. I pushed the little one to the ground and then raised my large fist to the bigger one. He backed away saying, “It’s your funeral.”
  If I had paused just for a second, I would have thought of my family and stopped myself. But I intended on saving those kids. Even the manager was only 10 older than my own child.
  I pushed back through the crowd, the windows were black with smoke and heat from the fire could be felt ten feet from the doorway. I pushing the door in with my foot to avoid burning my hand, as the door opened the flames inside increased ten fold but it didn’t matter the door closed behind me and the flash over subsided.
  I leapt the counter and fell down to the floor, between the counter and the chopping table. I fell back into what I was looking for, more than once that fire extinguisher had almost took my knee cap off. I raised the canister pointing into the base of the flame. The heat from the fire was so intense; I closed my eyes.
  I had held my breath until that moment, I needed to breather. I put my mouth into that red shirt and took what I thought was my last breath, I passed out.
  A few hours later, I woke up in the hospital. It must had looked like a zombie movie as I started to come to life. I flailed my arms in front of me and started to get raise up. I felt the hand of someone on my chest.
  “Sir, you are at Greenleaf General and you need to get back into bed and calm down, your wife is on the way and knows everything,” ordered the voice of a nurse or was it a doctor. I am still confused at this point. They had wrapped my face with bandages and I must have looked like a ruddy mummy.
  “Mm, Mmm, amm. M?” I heard myself say, what I was trying to say was, what about my crew, those kids, but the nurse or doctor was no help.
  “You are at Greenleaf General, you have been in a fire and you need to remain calm.”
  “Mmlm,” I managed to get out.
  “Your burns are not that serous but you inhaled a lot of smoke in that heroic stunt of yours,” she said.
  Heroic stunt, that was what she said. Did I save someone? Was my crew okay? With more questions than answers, I pass out one more time.
  Later, my wife showed up and held my hand. She was concerned about me. I must have looked awful.
  “You work at a sub shop?” she asked as she ran her hands a crossed the remains of my red uniform.
  “mm, MMM,” I muttered the answer. There was no use lying to her about it now.
  “They’re calling you a hero,” she answered.
  “MMm?” I answered.
  “Yeah, the door was blocked from someone parking the dumpster a crossed the back exit. So they ran into to the walk-in freezer. If you hadn’t put the fire out they would have died. By the time, the fire department got there to sort it all out, they found all of those other employees alive, but passed out from the lack of oxygen. They all so say the place would have burnt to the ground if it wasn‘t for you.”
  “mmh?” I asked.
  “What? Sorry, I didn’t get that,” she asked. “Well, anyways it is all over the news and Mr. Smothers called and told me, you can come back to work anytime. He always needs one more hero accountant.”
  “I feel asleep at that point. The kids were safe and the news was out. I had been offered my old job back. I felt great,” I said.
  “Then why do you still work here at the sub shop?” as the man in the suit.
  “Because my good man, I would rather be a hero sandwich artist than a Bum of an accountant, Would you like your Mamba Bomba toasted or un-toasted.”


  The above short story is to be considered copyrighted. I am the author and kept all rights to the above story. Unlike most of the material on my blog it a fabrication of Fiction. I wasn’t told the story. It is not meant to be about anyone in particular and should be considered a product of my imagination. The author doesn’t not smoke or drink in excess. He has also held the same job for 20 years. So if you like fiction and want to read more of my works of fiction you can go to http://lettersfromtheverse.blogspot.com read the posts from the beginning and you should be able to figure out the storyline.  You can also catch me on Facebook, under the name, Letters from the Verse.
 Thank you,
 James Farnworth.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bark at the moon


  Today boys and girls we are going to talk about masks. You all have them, we all wear them. The masks we want others to see us in.
  When my wife and I met I lived in a metal barn. So when we moved from Ellensburg to Vancouver my wife wanted a big say in what kind of place we moved into. We settled for an apartment a few miles east of downtown. We went back a couple of times to make sure that it was the place we wanted to live. They had a big down payment and I didn't want to waste the amount of the down the wrong apartment.
  What I remember the most was that the grass was mowed, yards were edged and the brush was clipped back.
  We moved in and the first night my car was broken in to and people stood outside my bedroom window talking all night.  It was a Thursday night, I remember it because I was laying there in bed thinking don't these people need to go to bed.
  So over the next few weeks we lived in misery. During the day it was beautiful and lovely at night a rock concert. I reported my neighbors to the management and they said they had no idea.
  It occurred to me one night that what happened to all the beer cans that hit the ground. So I decided to set a few cans up, so I could see them from my bed. About 7am I heard a noise outside my bedroom window and there was the maintenance man walking through the bushes picking up all the cans and trash.
  So if he was ordered to pick the trash then the manager knew exactly how bad the situation was at night. They didn't care that we didn't get any asleep; all they cared about was making the place look nice for new respective tenets coming round to look at the complex during the day.
  That is what some people do in their real lives. The put on the facade of a nice person to lore you in and then you find out just how they really are once the sun goes down, you find that they bark at the moon.
  So what do we do with this information? We know how we are. We do the same thing as a defense mechanism. Go into any city and you will run into these people one after another. You can’t talk to anyone without your mask on. You can just be yourself, because yourself is just another facade.
  When you were in school do you remember going up to children and saying, “My name is… Would you like to play?” Try doing that today as an adult and you will get a strange look and they will just walk away.
  We can do our best to become the person we want to be and be the person we ought to be. I hope I haven’t confused the reader, but someone once said, “Treat your neighbor as you wish to be treated.” Be kind to one another. Hold up the lost and say here he is. Use your facade for good and it will all work out in the end.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Moon Over Seattle


  A few days ago I talked about my father and how he walked across Yakima to get a car for his family. That wasn't the only time he did something like that.
  There was this time my mom forgot to pack my and brother’s swim suits when we went to Seattle for the weekend. I must have been eight or nine.
  We had paid extra for a hotel with a swimming pool. This was completely out of character for my family. It was a few blocks from the space needle and downtown.
  After we got back from a day of site seeing dad said to get our swimming suits on.
  “No suits,” my mom yelled.
  I remember being upset.
  Dad wouldn't have it and went off looking for a clothing store. We waited three hours until dad came back mad at the fact he couldn't find a store that was open but he was able find a set of white boxer shorts that didn't fit either one of us. Mine had to be pinned to my side but I didn't care, I was going swimming.
  We jumped into the pool and played for a while. My brother stepped out first to the laughter of all the sat around the pool. Dad who had been stewing about his evening looked up with the biggest smile on his face.
  My brother's shorts were now wet and see through. He ran for his towel and left for the room. Soon the laughter stopped and people settled down. I had stopped laughing way before this because I realized at that point, I sported the same shorts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In the Key of ‘A’


  I suppose some stories shouldn’t be retold but this isn't one of those kind blogs. I figure my mom won't mind and I know my dad won't because of the fact that I heard the story from him at least a dozen times over the years.
  I've said before that we liked to take trips to Canada. We had friends and relatives all over Alberta. We would leave town and not come back for a couple of weeks. It was nice up there and many a story came from the place where they say, "A".
  One night in Canada, my mom went out to play cards with some friends at someone’s house. (I‘m not saying who…) They played for hours and my mom came back just as happy as can be. She just wouldn't settle down.
  "So what did you guys do all-night," my dad asked.
  "We played cards!" she excitedly answered.
  "Did you eat anything?" he asked.
  "Only some brownies," she answered back rinsing out a wash cloth.
  "Did you smoke anything,” he asked.
  "Just my cigarettes and I stopped that because of the smoke," she said as she began to clean the counter of the camper.
  "Smoke from?" he asked.
  "They didn't open any windows and it got really, ‘smokey’ plus the cheap cigarettes they smoked stunk up the place," she answered wiping the campers counter for the third time sense she had returned.
  "Honey those were cigarettes, they were smoking Wacky-tobackie and you are high as a kite."
  "No!" she answered, looking in to the fridge for something to eat.
  "Yeah and I think the brownies my have had a little something in the too!" he laughed.
  He never really let her live that done and I guess now it is my turn.

The Spaghetti Incident


  How old is this Child in this picture? Post your guesses as comments.
  I as a parent, make the mistake of thinking my 6 year old is older than he is, I make statements, such as, “why wouldn’t you act your age?” What I was really asking is why you don’t act older than you are capable of acting. We want the child that is running around already acting his age to act more like an adult.
   Sometimes we take it for granted that they seem older than they are when we catch them being quiet.
  The other day, my brother reminded me of a trip to Seattle we took with our parents. We went over on one of those trips where we rushed around to the zoo, the aquarium, the space needle, and let's not forget, Pike Place Market. We made the most of our day, but it was soon time to find a restaurant and head back to the motel.
   We went to the spaghetti factory on the Seattle waterfront. It was my mom's favorite place to eat and we always ate there at least once when visiting the city.
   My brother and I we’re exhausted. We sat at our table waiting for the meal for what must have been an hour. The Mariners’ game had just let out and the fans were crowding into the restaurant.
   Once we received our food, Lee and I sat there quietly eating. When my brother in the middle of taking a bite closed his eyes and fell asleep, which would have been okay, if it went for the plate of spaghetti his face fell into.
  I hadn't known that it was an option to sleep in a restaurant, so I closed my eyes and joined him.
  My parents sat there having a quiet meal with two very quiet children for the rest of the evening. They had made the mistake of thinking we could do all activities and have the energy to stay quiet for more than a few minutes without falling asleep.
   When they were finished, my dad lifted Lee and my mom carries me to the door. Dad pays the check and as he is putting his wallet away he felt this warm sensation running down his leg. My older brother wet his pants and his father. I woke up to see my dad's shoe wet from the accident. Dad kept quiet for the most part and slipped back to the motel for a change of clothes.
   So whether my child is acting two or twenty-two, I always try to remember that he is just a child and I really don't want to get peed on.
   The answer to the above question is four years old. No software was used in the making of the photo, we just caught him being quiet and looking older than what he really was.

    

The Spaghetti Incident


  How old is this Child in this picture? Post your guesses as comments.
  I as a parent, make the mistake of thinking my 6 year old is older than he is, I make statements, such as, “why wouldn’t you act your age?” What I was really asking is why you don’t act older than you are capable of acting. We want the child that is running around already acting his age to act more like an adult.
   Sometimes we take it for granted that they seem older than they are when we catch them being quiet.
  The other day, my brother reminded me of a trip to Seattle we took with our parents. We went over on one of those trips where we rushed around to the zoo, the aquarium, the space needle, and let's not forget, Pike Place Market. We made the most of our day, but it was soon time to find a restaurant and head back to the motel.
   We went to the spaghetti factory on the Seattle waterfront. It was my mom's favorite place to eat and we always ate there at least once when visiting the city.
   My brother and I we’re exhausted. We sat at our table waiting for the meal for what must have been an hour. The Mariners’ game had just let out and the fans were crowding into the restaurant.
   Once we received our food, Lee and I sat there quietly eating. When my brother in the middle of taking a bite closed his eyes and fell asleep, which would have been okay, if it went for the plate of spaghetti his face fell into.
  I hadn't known that it was an option to sleep in a restaurant, so I closed my eyes and joined him.
  My parents sat there having a quiet meal with two very quiet children for the rest of the evening. They had made the mistake of thinking we could do all activities and have the energy to stay quiet for more than a few minutes without falling asleep.
   When they were finished, my dad lifted Lee and my mom carries me to the door. Dad pays the check and as he is putting his wallet away he felt this warm sensation running down his leg. My older brother wet his pants and his father. I woke up to see my dad's shoe wet from the accident. Dad kept quiet for the most part and slipped back to the motel for a change of clothes.
   So whether my child is acting two or twenty-two, I always try to remember that he is just a child and I really don't want to get peed on.
   The answer to the above question is four years old. No software was used in the making of the photo, we just caught him being quiet and looking older than what he really was.

    

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A good Grounding


  There is always a point in a boy’s life when the father starts to see them as a man. Now, I am not talking about the right to vote, buy alcohol or getting married. Hopefully, the father has already thought of their boy as a man, long before then. The point where the father notices that his boy’s head is good for something other than a hat rack.
  That point, came for me when I was 14. That was the summer I learned to juggle. I was grounded, for a month for shooting myself.
  Which was okay, there was plenty to do around the house, until my dad decided to go back up to Bumping lake for a couple of weeks. We took the camper and the boat. I was beginning to think that I was off the hook for the grounding, but no luck.
  I was now grounded to the campsite. We would get up each day and as soon breakfast was done; I was shooed out of the camper by my mother. I sat there for a few days watching the water and the trees. There was nothing to do, but throw pine. So that is when it dawned on me; this was a prefect opportunity to learn how to juggle.
  My mom watched from inside the camper and would come out when I show signs of improvement. By the time two weeks were up, I had learned a new skill. I can still juggle to this day.
  One Sunday afternoon, we loaded our things into the camper and raised the jacks. Dad told me to get out and watch for the trees. The camper is 10 or so feet tall and we had already lost the overhead window once because of a tree.
  So, I stood out in front, waiting for him to start the truck, which to the disgust of my father, didn‘t happen. That familiar sound of the truck door opening and he was out under the raised hood. The battery was to week to turn the motor over.
  The good news was we had an extra battery; the bad news we had run that one down too. He was upset and it didn't help that mom kept reminding him that we were due back at school that next day.
  That was when I started to shine.
  "How about jumping the batteries, two week batteries have to be stronger then one,” I suggested.
  "Might work, if we had a set of jumper cables," he growled
  Normally, I would have walked away but I had just spent two weeks learning to juggle and I wasn't in the giving up kind of mood.
  "How about wire?" I suggested.
  "We don't have any I looked,” he growled again.
  He was starting to get mad and that was when it wasn’t a good idea to get in his way.
  "Coat hangers are made of metal?"
  "A coat hanger won't carry the load,” he groaned, and started to move away.
  "How about five coat hangers and a roll of tape,” I suggest, feeling a little nervous.
  He smiled and I headed off on a scavenger hunt.
  We wrapped the wires in tape and started the truck. He looked at me different that day, less worthless and more like a man.
  "You get to tell your mother what happened to her hangers and you are still grounded. No son of mine is going to hit a bullet with a hammer and get away with it."
  "I understand," I answered.
  He may have started to look at me different that day, but he was still my dad and sometimes a son just needs a good grounding to get the point a crossed.
  If you are wondering about how I shot myself, you will just have to wait for the post.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Playgirl Incident


  When I was in college I came home on the weekends brought the laundry and helped around the house. On weekend, dad needed me to help clean out an apartment for a friend of his. (Hint: he doesn't like spiders)
  As we were finishing the project my dad came across a stash of playgirl magazines that some one had thrown out. One was still in the plastic. So I picked it up and tossed it in the truck.
  He made fun of me about my choice of literature.
  "You know that nude men pose in that magazine,” he asked, holding back the laugher.
  "Yep," I answer.
  "Why then is it sitting on my dash?" he demanded to know, now laughing almost uncontrollably.
  "I have a plan," I answered.
  "Does it involve some alone time?” he asked, turning in the seat and almost driving completely off the road.
  "No dad, it is better if I don't involve you."
  We made it home and dad went out into his shop. We spend a lot of time out there. I slipped inside and took an old Red Book from my mother stash.
  He watched as I cut the label of my mother’s magazine and glued it on to the playgirl.
  I looked over at him at that point and grinned.
   "Yep, you’re right, it is best you don't get me involved in this," he said, returning to his work. As I walked away I could here him laughing.
  I waited for the mailman to come by and drop the mail into the box. When he was gone I slipped over to the mail box and added a small surprise.
  Mom came out an hour later to find what she thought was a playboy. She was ‘Ready to fly“. (Mother’s catch phrase) Somewhere from the mail box to the kitchen, she noticed the name on the magazine and then the fact it was a playgirl magazine
  Two minutes later she was out talking to my dad. (Screaming Really)
  "What does the mailman think of me? A woman of my age getting magazine like this; who ordered this filth."
  She called my brother and I am sure my sisters, hinting around to the little surprise in that days mail.
  She knew it was a joke, but she was worried about more magazines coming in the mail. She worked it out that there were more on the way. I almost order more to tell you the truth but dad threaten to disown me or worse tell her where it came from. For months she ran out to the mail box each day to look for more magazines.
  She really began to fixate on the mail box until dad decided to tell her the truth. I got a phone call a few minute later.
  "YOU!" was all she needed to yell on the phone.
  “So he told you,” I laughed, understanding that was the only thing I had done that she would be that mad at me for.
  After she passed away we sorted through her things. There in a box my brother found the magazine. It is in new condition, she never read it, but I would like to think she kept it to reminder herself she owned me one.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Silence of the Dogs


  Sometimes as parents we do things that our children don't understand: make them go to bed, make them stay home, you can't watch that show and no, you can’t have that pop right now. Sometimes situations are completely out of our control.
  “Okay, I am going to count to three and pull this string and you hold on. That tooth will be out in just a second. One, two…” said my dad the frugal Oral surgeon.
  “Ouch!” I screamed.
  “Three, there it’s out,” he laughed holding the bloody tooth.
  We do things like pull teeth or pull the bandage off. We know it is going to hurt, but we also in some deep place, remember when our parents found it amusing doing the same things to us.
  Take when I we around ten years old, dad took us out of state on yet another cross country trip. Being a frugal family, we took the camper, 400 plus miles to Jackpot, Nevada. Yes, Jackpot was the name of the town. It is just south of twin falls Idaho. A place made famous by Evel Knievel back in the seventies and his attempt to jump the Snake River. The last time, I was through there you could still see the ramp that was built for the event, forty years later.
  We had just started south from twin falls on this narrow highway. The sky was blue and the grass along the side of the road was nice and green. The area teamed with life, I remember there were a lot of prairie dogs.
  I road above the cab of the truck in the over head sleeper in the camper, it was a comfortable ride with the pillows stacked just right.  I know it is dangerous now, but this was the seventies and seatbelts were just being installed into cars, and not just as a fancy option.
  I looked over the hood and watched the little fury creatures run across the road and every once in a while, I heard a thump. Soon it came to me that my father was killing those poor little desert dwellers. At one Point, it sounded like popcorn below in the under carriage of the camper.
  I screamed for him to stop. The tears ran down my face like little rivers. I watched as one after another died at my dad’s hand. I climbed down and stuck my head into the cab of the truck through the little window that links the truck and camper.
  “Daddy! Stop killing prairie dogs.”
  "Get back up there and stop crying or you will stay in the camper all the time we are in Jackpot."
  He could have told me that the wind was blowing so hard that he couldn’t swerve out of the way. He could have told me that the cars behind us were to close and it was too dangerous to slam on the brakes. He could have told me anything. But go back up into the sleeper and watch the carnage.
  I feared my punishment and I did what any child of my age would have done. I betrayed my animal rights belief and started to root for my father. I secretly became a closet conservationist that day.
  In my dad's defense, he could have told me anything at that point and I wouldn't have believed him. The truth was if he would have slowed down he would have killed just as many. It was mating season and the prairie dogs weren’t thinking straight.
  It wasn't until a few years later that he admitted he didn't like kill those prairie dogs, but he did love it when I rooted for him. He also related a similar story about his uncle and him back in Carey, Idaho. So I guess, that’s my point, if I have one to make. We react the way our parents taught us to react to the Band-Aid, the loose tooth, and sexually aroused prairie dog.
  One day my son will pull off a Band-Aid and remember me doing the same for him in some circle of Life kind of way.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don’t Upset the Potato Cart


  I have been talking about being thrifty as of late. I guess as Christmas and bad weather gets closer I start to think about how to tighten the financial belt.
   My dad used to head out into the early Fall to pick up potatoes north of Prosser. I remember those day, it was still warm and we would get up early and make a day of it.
   We used my dad’s truck to collect 500 lbs of spuds. They weren’t the little ones either. Those were up to three time the size of the potatoes you find the supermarket. They were fresh and we loaded them into potato sacks.
   The summer when I we eleven we went out and dad asked me to take the wheel. This was a great honor; it was my first time driving a vehicle of any kind. My dad sat in the passenger’s seat and everyone else got in to the back and I started down the field.
   he asked" okay James let's go a little faster."
   I looked back and lee was riding a sack of potatoes like a surfboard.
   We were on our way to the end of the field where the machine had trouble picking up the potatoes. I driving, dad guiding, mom sitting and there was lee standing like he was in his own captain Morgan commercial.
   Well he shouts, "Stop!"
   I put both feet into that brake like I was trying to kill a rat.
The truck stopped sliding a little to the left and lee did not. He came forward at 25 or so miles an hour and over the cab he went and didn't stop until his hand and arm was touching the hood. I looked him in the eye through that windshield. He had outrage in his eyes and I quickly closed the window and locked the door. He climbed off the cab and reached for the door. It was locked and he ran to the other side where I had crawled over my dad to roll the window up and lock the door.
   "You have to come out sometime," he screamed.
   "You said stop," I yelled back through the locked door.
   Dad laughed and opened the door, baring him from killing me out right. I wonder to this day if I wouldn't have been sporting a black eye if it wasn't for my dad.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oh, Canada.

  I as a parent try to make a good life for my family. I haven't been eating truffles or caviar, but we do well with what we have. Besides, I never developed a taste for the finer things.
   I guess I inherited my frugalness from my parents. I save a little each month after I pay my bills, always thinking of the future; While remember the past.
   Back, when I was six years old, my dad and mom wanted to go on a trip that they could remember for a lifetime. Mom didn't want to go on a long car ride. So dad planned one of those trips that would call for planes, trains and automobiles. He also threw in a boat at the last minute.
   We left the house early one morning bound for the Yakima airport. We parked the car there and took a plane ride to Seattle. I can remember the wing and how blue the sky was, it was breath taking. I don't fly much. Never felt the need, but when I do I make the most of it; I sit back and try to take it in.
   When we got to Sea-Tac, we took a cab to the Seattle docks and caught a ferry to Vitoria, British Columbia. I can remember my mother getting sick. Even through the motion of the boat didn't seem to bother anyone else.
   We enjoyed 5 days in Victoria. The Wax museum, was what I remember the most, although the Butchart Gardens was something else. I think mom like that best.
   We came back on the ferry and took a train from Seattle to Yakima. Back then the train went through Stampede Pass. The views were spectacular the ride was rickety, but come on, it was a train ride every boy dreams about. Today, my son is the same way, crazy about trains.
   When got back to Yakima really struck. Dad held a secret, he had no more money. No cab fare, no money for food and no one to call. Dad left us at the train station and walked to the airport. It must have killed him. It is around 7 miles from the train station to the airport and he did it without complaint. So I guess this is my point. We as parent do things for our kids that they may never understood. It might be as easy as giving them a Happy Meal and sharing a fountain drink with ourselves or as difficult as letting a car be repossessed so that we can afford mortgage. We do it because we love our kids and nothing else is important.
   Did I understand why my dad left us at the train station, no not at the time. But when I did understand it taught me that you do things for your family even if it means walking a crossed a city in the middle of the afternoon on a summers day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Matlock



  So I know, I said I was going to write about my family’s past and maybe release a few short stories through this blog but I think I need to share what just happened.
  Well, actually, it started a few weeks ago, when we were called to Darrel’s classroom by his teacher for a special intervention. She was concerned about Darrel falling behind. He isn’t going to flunk out of 1st grade or anything like that, but he does need to work on a few things, math being the most important.
   I thought about it and decided he spends too much time on the Xbox playing violent games. We are a high tech modern family there are 4 Xbox 360, 3 lab tops, 2 desk tops, and Tweety in a pare tree in my house at any given time. Not to mention the HD TV’s in almost every room but my own.
   So starting with the Xbox, I looked through the family game folder for any games that are what I consider Violet. They included: Call of Duty, Halo, Borderlands, and many more. I left games like Star Wars Lego’s and Acme Arsenal. It is violent but not as violent as Call of duty.
   Last week was fine, he didn’t miss any of the games and his school work has really improved. The teacher has told us as much.
   Today, is Friday and the start of a new weekend. I get three days off, Friday through Sunday. Darrel started to whine about Halo 3, early this morning. By far Halo 3 is his favorite. So this went on for about hour before I asked him to sit with me and watch some cartoons.
   “Why can’t I play Halo 3,” he asked, between fits of tears.
   “Because that game is violent and I want you do better in school so you can make something of yourself when you grow up. If you don’t stop asking you are going to your room,” I answered, thinking well this is going to be a long day.
    A few minutes past and he got quiet. We watch Dora curled up on the coach. I was beginning to think it was over. (I win, no not exactly.)
    “Dad, what is a violent game?” asked the young attorney.
    “It is game that I have deemed as unhealthy for you to play,” I answered trying to sound smart.
    “So what makes a game violent?” asked the young lawyer.
    “It is a game that you play by going around killing things,” I answered. Not really realizing I was on the witness stand and he already had where he wanted me.
    “When I play Halo 3, I don’t fight monsters or people. I shot things that aren’t alive. Like boxes and tanks, But no people or monsters,” said the lawyer.
    SO! What he really meant and was getting at in such a logical way was, “Your Honor, my client Darrel does not play Halo 3 the traditional way. He doesn’t fight on matches and play the story mode. He plays on his own map by himself with no one else, AI or otherwise. So he plays Halo in a non-violent way and should be allowed to play the game.”
    I was set up I tell you. I really can’t believe I just lost this argument with my 6 year old. He set me up like a set of pins and bowled me over.
    I as his parent and the judge, decided to let him play the game after he did his homework. He got quiet again and I waited for the argument and worried if I was going to loose on appeal, but after a few minutes he said he was ready to start his homework.
    So later, he sits playing his Halo 3 in a non-violent way, when his uncle comes into the room. He said,” You better turn off that game before your mother comes home.”
    “No, I said he could,” I answered.
    “Did you ask your wife?” his uncle asked me.
    “Who do you think the man of the house is?” I answered, puffy out my chest.
    “Mommy,” said my son.
   If I do get into trouble with my wife for letting him play, I’m sure I can get off. I have a good lawyer.